Michael De Feo‘s street interventions are part cartoon aphorism, part baroque embellishment, and part graffiti redaction. The large scale paintings in his Crosstown Traffic series play with the artifice of advertisements in the public space, while simultaneously degrading their market power.
In an interview given to Mark and Angela Walley on behalf of the Rice University Art Gallery where Crosstown Traffic will be displayed from June 9th until August 28th, De Feo states,
“I’m not looking to reproduce nature exactly as she is. I’m using it more as a springboard into something else. It’s about issues [regarding] the cycle of life; the circle of life, where things are born, last a short amount of time, and then are gone. And, perhaps, regrow again someplace else.”
De Feo has used the motif of flowers and floral patterns in his street pieces since 1993. They are a sort of throwback to natural ruin and “overgrowth” as he says, but are stylized, illustrative; they hearken as strongly to the cannon of printed ornamentation, or abstraction, as they do to natural forms. In a sense, he is cultivating the aesthetic of public commerce, with its gardens of photos and signage, and re-layering them with derivative marks. The interplay is disrupting, caricatural, and pleasingly over-embellished.
De Feo is yet another artist whose signature graffiti pieces have been embraced by commercial outlets; according to his website he’s collaborated with companies like Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus and Christian Louboutin. He has also shown extensively in international museums and venues, and been included in countless magazine and art book publications. In addition to the showing at the Rice Gallery in Houston, De Feo’s work will be on display at the Danziger Gallery in New York, from July 13th until August 12th.
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